Decorate Your Thanksgiving Table…

...With Things You Have Around the House

November 25, 2014

By Nadia Fantea Westchester-based architect, designer, blogger and founder of MaMeMima Design Studio.

Last year we hosted our first Thanksgiving at home. I don’t cook (at least not to host a thanksgiving dinner yet) but my parents were in town and my mom, who is an awesome cook, kindly offered to take over in the kitchen. Consequently, I was in charge of setting the table.

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I hadn’t gotten any special seasonal décor so I pulled from what we have and challenged myself to pair our staple, re-usable items, like dinnerware, silver, glasses, linens, with easy, inexpensive, DIY ideas. Here’s what I learned about decorating a beautiful table scape:

1. A beautiful table scape is all about layering and texture. The base for my table setting was the natural burlap runner that sits on our dining table year round. I combined it with a neutral colored tablecloth with matching napkins.

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2. Let the tableware set the color scheme. I mixed our white, square china with some square green dishes we already had and our green/yellow glasses. For a centerpiece I shopped around the house looking for things in those colors I could use. I had these fake green and white gourds in a glass container in the kitchen, so I grabbed some of those and placed them around a medium size pumpkin the kids got at a Fall festival.  I put everything on a metal dish I borrowed from our living room. I also brought to the table two big candlestick holders. Then it was all about the DIY details.

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3. Use your Mason Jars. I collect vintage mason jars. I used some as drinking glasses and filled the other two with a bunch of flowers. Any type of glass containers will work, too.

4. Forget expensive napkin rings. Use ribbon! In my ribbon stash, I found this see-through, shimmery green one that would be perfect. It matched our small green dishes. I tied the napkins in a nice lace with it.

5. Use Fall Foliage. I sent my kids outside to collect branches and leaves. Of course not all that was collected was usable. I picked little pieces of greenery and tucked them into the napkins.

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6. Make your place cards. Place cards are the perfect personal touch. I used some simple printables I found (that very same day) online, handwrote our names on them and pasted them on pieces of corrugated cardstock.

7. Don’t forget the flowers. I don’t think there is an easier way to embellish a table. No need for fancy bouquets or arrangements (although those are very nice, too). I sent the husband to the grocery store to get some flowers in our table setting colors of oranges, yellows, and greens. He got home with pink-ish, red, yellow flowers. Oh well, I made them work, too. I mixed them up and made two small bouquets, placed them in small mason jars, tied some of the same green ribbon used on the place settings and added a cardstock tag. Tip: head to Traders Joes for the best variety and price.

I loved how our tablescape turned out, especially our place settings. Nothing fancy, on the contrary very simple but pretty, cozy and memorable.

After our Thanksgiving get together, everything went back to their original places or the closet, waiting until the next occasion. Hello Christmas!

My Secret Sources:
White china and silverware: Crate and Barrel

Glassware: Neiman Marcus

Linens: Target

Table runner: Pottery Barn

Candle stick Holders: HomeGoods

 

Feel the Turkey Burn

A brutal (and fun?) exercise program makes Thanksgiving eating guilt-free.

November 23, 2014

So what if you stuffed yourself with mashed potatoes, turkey and gravy? On the Friday after Thanksgiving (and the morning of the big feast), SoulCycle, the popular Manhattan-based chain of spinning studios, is hosting special 90-minute “Turkey Burn” rides.

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A typical 45-minute SoulCycle spinning class burns about 500 to 700 calories, but thanks to the 90-minute ride, bet on subtracting 1,000 to 1,400 calories from your day. “The energy of the room is amazing since everyone is excited to be there and burn off tons of calories,” says Kristyn Clark, a spokesperson for SoulCycle, who is doing a turkey burn with her sister on Thanksgiving morning.

Classes are processed as two 45-minute classes at $34 per class. Sign up beginning on Monday, November 24 — classes do book up.

Here’s where the classes are offered — and when:

Bronxville (94 Kraft Avenue)
Thanksgiving Day – 9:15am with Sam
Day after – 9:15am with Monique
Rye Brook (21 Rye Ridge Plaza)
Thanksgiving Day – 8:15am with Chanelle
Thanksgiving Day – 10:15am with Mandy
Day after – 8:15am with Amanda M
Scarsdale (7 Popham Road, 3rd Floor)
Thanksgiving Day – 8:00am with Taye
Thanksgiving Day – 9:45am with Daniel
Day after – 8:00am with Gabrielle
Day after – 9:45am with Anthony M

Special Feature: Westchester’s Best Indoor Play Spaces

These 3 indoor spots let the kids blow off steam while having a blast.

November 21, 2014

It’s officially cold, which means the park isn’t always an option to get your kids moving! Westchester offers tons of indoor play spaces for all ages and interests. Here are our top 3 picks:

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Gymtime Place: 1 Heathcote Road at Scarsdale Congregational Church, Scarsdale

Gymtime is a special place for infants and toddlers. They have the opportunity to meet other kids and develop their social skills, while honing their running, jumping and tumbling skills.  At Gymtime, you’ll get used to seeing active children having fun with a GREAT BIG smile on their face. Over 20 years old, there are classes offered from infancy through age 4, and you can attend up to 4 days/week.  The price can’t be beat and their birthday parties are a blast too! Check out their website for new info including lunch bunch and afternoon classes! Mention this ad for $20 off. www.gymtimeplace.com

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Kidville Mt. Kisco: 145 Kisco Avenue, Mt. Kisco

The staff at Kidville Mt. Kisco is dedicated to offering fun, developmentally appropriate classes where children newborn to 6-years-old learn joyfully through play and exploration. They offer classes in gym, music, art, dance, science and enrichment, as well as a pre-school alternative program and seasonal camps. Expect programs that instill confidence and help children grow physically, socially and cognitively in a safe, stimulating environment.  A small teacher-child ratio and a thematic, child-centered curriculum focused on play allow creativity, risk-taking, language development and early discovery to flourish in all classes. Check out their Club Kidville specials going on now! www.kidville.com/mtkisco

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WeeZee World: 480 North Bedford Road, Chappaqua

WeeZee – the huge, amazing sensory playspace that combines cutting-edge child development with incredible fun!  Programs are a one-stop-shop for every parent’s needs – Drop Offs, After School, Summer Camp, Toddler Development, Birthdays, and more!  Activities for every child’s interest, with a music room, athletics zone, rain room, art and cooking, strategic thinking, and imaginative play, are all led by amazing coaches who engage and build a strong friendship with every child. We were there recently for an event and were blown away by the offerings — our kids didn’t want to leave. Memberships are available for unlimited access, in addition to holiday and School’s Out options. Call (914) 752-2100 for details or visit www.weezeeworld.com

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6 Things to Do Thanksgiving Weekend

You're all together -- now here's what to do.

November 20, 2014

After the big dinner and a little Black Friday shopping, here’s a plan to keep you and your family busy this upcoming holiday weekend.

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Hike
On Sunday, November 30th at 11:30am, head to Greenburgh Nature Center for a family guided trail hike through the woodland forest. Geared to kids and running 45 minutes, kids will love discovering animal tracks, guessing which animals live in which trees, or which plant makes heat to melt through winter ice. Best of all, it’s free. A similar Turkey Walk Off Hike is being offered by Westmoreland Sanctuary at 11am on Saturday, November 29th. Enjoy the last bit of fall on this family-friendly hike that costs $5 per person.

See Santa
Get tickets to Ridge Hill’s North Pole Adventure. Presented by DreamWorks, the experience invites families to design a sled, take a 4D ride on Santa’s sled and then meet Santa himself. Read our full article about this cool holiday feature. Open daily, but timed tickets required.

Work That Big Dinner Off
On Saturday, November 29th, take the family out for Bedford’s Turkey Trot at Bedford Village Memorial Park. You can run the 5k through Bedford Village, while the kids ages 12 and under can walk, run and no matter what, get an award — a guaranteed win in my house. Race starts at 9am. Register online here.

Tour the Farm
Stone Barns is offering special Family Farm Tours on Friday, November 28th at 11am and 1pm. On this family-friendly, 45 minute tour for ages 4 and up, explore the farm and experience seasonal highlights of farm life. Take a closer look at the animals, get insight into how farmers are prepping for winters, and visit veggies in the greenhouse. (All kids must be accompanied by a ticketed adult!) Adults and kids are $10 a piece.

Meet Frosty
Frosty the Snowman will come alive on November 29th when Frosty Day takes over the village of Armonk. From 12:30 to 4:30pm, kids can go on a Main Street Scavenger Hunt, while horsing around with clowns and magicians. Also on tap: Dance and music performances in Armonk Square, and cookie decorating nearby. At 4:30pm, there’s a Frosty Day Parade with over 30 floats. Free.

Explore a Winter Wonderland
It’s opening weekend for Kensico Dam Plaza’s Westchester’s Winter Wonderland, which opens to the public on November 29th at 4pm. Not only will there be a festive choreographed light show, but you’ll get to take a sleigh ride, ice skate outdoors, watch Santa in his workshop and take part in caroling. There will be a food tent, even a tent for holiday shopping. We’re excited to check out this new event. Tickets are $10.

The Find: Quinoa Burger at Hastings’ French Press Cafe

Sound strange? It's not. It's delicious.

November 16, 2014

Whenever I’m in Hastings, I love to pop into French Press Cafe for lunch. It’s not really French at all, but they often have good homemade soups and specials. Recently, I tasted their Quinoa Burger on Brioche ($10).

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Chefs everywhere are having fun trying to figure out how to make tasty burgers out of ingredients other than meat. I had a beet burger at Stone Barn’s Harvest Fest that was chargrilled, smoky and a little tart, but somehow tasted better than any beef burger I’d ever had. (And I love beef burgers!)

French Press’s Quinoa Burger, while it has a bit of trouble holding together, was memorable too. The chef flavors the savory quinoa patty expertly, douses it with a creamy (and spicy) aioli sauce, tops it with arugula, and packs it all in between a buttery brioche roll. If lunch is boring you, head over for a taste. This was delish! According to the cashier, it’s the most popular item on the menu.

French Press Cafe, 579 Warburton Avenue, Store #5 (Movie House Mews); Hastings-on-Hudson

High End Decor on a Budget: Country Willow

One designer's secret source for farmhouse dining tables for less.

November 15, 2014

By Lorri Elder Dyner, an interior designer in Westchester. Read about her other budget finds here

In the market for a farm table? Just about every family I work with now wants a beautiful, reclaimed wood look in their dining room. I’m going to share a secret I tell my clients: Country Willow in Bedford is one of the best place to find farm tables.

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But wait! The real surprise here is to head straight to the warehouse part of the store, where you will find rows of high-end farm tables for a steal.

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I had my eye on that guy at the bottom – Country Willow is asking $2,000, down from the original price of $3800.

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That is hands down a cheaper price than Restoration Hardware, and the quality can’t be beat — all their tables are handmade in the USA. If you’re looking for a farm table, definitely make a stop here. I’m never let down by their selection.

Country Willow, 230 Rt 117 By Pass Rd, Bedford Hills; 914-241-7000

 

DIY Decorative Plates With Elmer’s Painters

Tots will make masterpieces with these mess-free paint markers.

November 12, 2014


This post was brought to you by Elmer’s via Mode Media. 

Not a natural Martha Stewart, I tend to panic when my kids request, “Let’s do a craft!” I love doing them, but the ideas don’t come naturally to me, and I cringe at the mess often created. Enter Elmer’s Painters, which make art projects easy and almost mess-free. Last weekend, we picked up some Elmer’s Painters Paint Markers and glass plates from Jo-Ann’s (for $3.99!) to make birthday gifts for my dad and sister from the kids. It was just enough “craftiness” for the kids and simple enough for me to manage!

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My daughter opted for neon colors, and my son chose the bold colors, and at 4 and 1/2 years old, both were able to comfortably hold and paint with the pens with much less mess than typical paint. (I even let them paint on the kitchen table with a plastic cover!)

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Both kids created masterpiece decorative plates that their recipients are sure to enjoy! This was much more fun (and way cheaper) than going to a typical “paint your own” pottery store. We also picked up some plastic globe holiday ornaments and wooden picture frames, which we plan to use our Elmer’s Painters on. They’ll work on any surface including wood, plastic, ceramic, fabric, you name it. And the kids will have a blast giving out their DIY gifts they’re so proud of.

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Painters® Paint Markers are as fresh and fun as the projects they create! These colorful opaque acrylic paint markers are perfect for decorating, drawing and personalizing almost any surface. Available in a variety of colors & tips, they are fast drying, permanent, streak-free, non-toxic & acid free. Express Yourself™! Follow Elmer’s on Instagram & Pinterest

Disclosure: Compensation was provided by Elmer’s via Mode Media. The opinions expressed herein are those of the author and are not indicative of the opinions or positions of Elmer’s.

November’s Happy List

THIS MONTH’S MUST-DO EVENTS, HAPPENINGS AND OTHER FUN STUFF.

November 11, 2014

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A puppet show or a farm tour? Depends on the weather, right? Even with November’s finicky up and down temps, we’ve got plenty of options, whether it’s sweater (or umbrella) weather. Here is what to do this month when you’re ready to go…

Join the Turkey Scavenger Hunt at Greenburgh Nature Center this Sunday, November 16 at 1:30pm. Kids (toddlers encouraged) go on a turkey “token hunt” on a woodland trail. After the hunt, enjoy snacks and nature crafts. Bundle up. It’s going to be coooold this weekend. Tickets are $9 per person; kids under 2 are free.

See how your kids react this year to the Holiday Train Show at The New York Botanical Garden. Watch model trains navigate 150 teeny-tiny replicas of New York City’s most famous landmarks. Here’s the rub: Everything is made of twigs, acorns, bark and berries. Kids love to hunt for the ladybug train. The show, which opens on Saturday, November 15th, requires timed tickets, and runs through January 19th.

The Hudson River Museum in Yonkers is currently exhibiting an art exhibit on peacocks. For kids, there’s a performance of Little Pea, a story about a blue jay lost in the museum’s gallery, put on by Sarah Lawrence College Theatre Outreach students. Recommended for ages 6 and up. Shows are Sunday, November 16 and 23rd at 1 and 3pm; show is 25 minutes long.

Stone Barns Center is offering families something to do after turkey day: Friday After Thanksgiving Farm Tours. Kids ages 4 and up can take a closer look at the animals, check on the vegetables in the greenhouses, and what the changing seasons mean to farm life. Tickets for adults and kids are $10.

Free puppet show? Of course we’ll be there. Scarsdale Congregational Church (1 Heathcote Road, Scarsdale) has invited the Tanglewood Marionettes to perform “An Arabian Adventure” on November 22 at 1pm and 3pm. Kids are always enchanted by these fantastical shows. Free.

Head to the Westchester Sandbox Theatre in Mamaroneck to see a kid-friendly musical, “Greedy Gracie Shares the Happy.” Recommended for kids 4 and up, the show is about being a leader, not a follower. Shows are the weekend of November 15 and 16, as well as November 22 and 23; check website for tickets and showtime. Tickets are $15.

Here’s something to do Thanksgiving weekend. The Emelin Theater is putting on Lilly’s Purple Plastic Purse, a show about a precocious little mouse. Shows are November 23 at 11am and 1:30pm; tickets are $15.

Frosty the Snowman will come alive on November 29th when Frosty Day takes over the village of Armonk. From 12:30 to 4:30pm, kids can go on a Main Street Scavenger Hunt, while horsing around with clowns and magicians. Also on tap: Dance and music performances in Armonk Square, and cookie decorating nearby. At 4:30pm, there’s a Frosty Day Parade with over 30 floats. Free.

Kensico Dam Plaza is hosting Westchester’s Winter Wonderland, beginning on November 29th at 4pm. Not only will there be a festive choreographed light show, but you’ll get to take a sleigh ride, ice skate outdoors, watch Santa in his workshop and take part in caroling. There will be a food tent, even a tent for holiday shopping. We’re excited to check out this new event. Tickets are $10.

Here’s a good Nutcracker for beginners. The New York Theatre Ballet is performing an hour-long The Nutcracker, created especially for younger audiences, on November 29th at Tarrytown Music Hall. Best of all, showtime is at 3pm, early enough for little ones to attend. (There is another show at 6pm.) Tickets are $35 per person.

 

We Made This: Apple Crisp-Stuffed Apples

As the weather turns cool, cozy up to this sweet snack.

November 10, 2014

By Lucy Baker, who lives in Irvington with her husband and toddler son and blogs at cheatingvegan.com.

Lots of local, Westchester farm-to-table restaurants are serving apple cobblers, pies, and crisps right now. ‘Tis the season, right? But I have to say, while I love eating out, and I really love dessert, these apple sweets tend to leave me a bit cold. They just always taste better homemade.

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One thing I do love about restaurant apple crisp, however, is the presentation. It usually comes to the table perfectly portioned in its own ramekin, with a crown of crunchy, crumbly topping and a dribble of apple filling running down the side. When I bake my tried-and-true apple crisp it’s unfailingly delicious, but it looks a little homely. I use my battered, trusty old 8×8-inch baking dish, and after the first serving is scooped the rest of the crisp collapses and the filling oozes out into the pan.

Not anymore. Here is a recipe for apple crisp so stunning, it’s practically worthy of Blue Hill at Stone Barns. (Well, maybe not quite, but a girl can dream!) This is my own recipe, but in researching it, I did borrow one important tactic from the great site Sally’s Baking Addiction, which was incorporating a little cornstarch. It gives the filling a wonderful gooiness, and helps hold everything together once the apples have been sliced open.

Added bonus? These are pretty healthy! I made them with whole wheat flour, oats, raisins, and only a small amount of fat. If you use coconut oil or Earth Balance, they’re vegan. I like to serve them topped with whipped coconut cream. Refrigerate a can of full fat coconut milk overnight. Carefully open it and scoop out the “cream” at the top of the can. Whip as you would dairy cream, with a big pinch of sugar. Of course, vanilla ice cream wouldn’t hurt, either.

I used two tart Granny Smith apples for the filling, and four of the prettiest apples I could find for the “cups,” which were the red Jonathan variety. You can use whatever apples you prefer. Here’s the recipe:  [...]

High End Decor on a Budget: Hi-Light Lighting and Design

A LOCAL DESIGNER SHARES HER SECRET SOURCE.

November 8, 2014

By Lorri Elder Dyner, an interior designer in Westchester. Read about her other budget finds here

I am always shocked by the price of lighting. That chandelier cost what?! Thankfully a friend pointed me to Hi-Light in Yonkers and I’ve been hooked ever since. This is a family-owned discount store that’s been in business for 45 years. If you are in the market for any major lighting, you must go!

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I found some incredible designer chandeliers that cost much more online, as well as several table lamps. Don’t even get me started on the bathroom sconces!

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I compared a few fixtures to what you could find online, and I have to say they really are discount. The prices were about 20% cheaper than what you could buy yourself online, for the exact same item.

Hi-Light Lighting and Design, 2455 Central Park Ave, Yonkers; 914-779-6628

Lorri Elder Dyner believes that by creating a beautiful home, we return to our best selves.  Lorri helps busy, overextended families take their homes to the next level using down-to-earth decorating ideas.  You can find her at www.returntohomeinteriors.com

Sneak Peek: Inside Ridge Hill’s North Pole Adventure

DreamWorks Animation's family-friendly wonderland is pure Christmas magic.

November 6, 2014

Ridge Hill’s North Pole Adventure, a 2,000-square-foot holiday cottage featuring an interactive eye-popping journey, is more than a visit with Santa. Think of it as a Santa experience. Sponsored by DreamWorks Animation, kids and parents alike will be charmed by the North Pole Adventure’s use of technology to tell a one-of-a-kind story, which opens to the public Thursday, November 6th and runs through Christmas Eve.

Ridge Hill North Pole Adventure Christmas Santa Village

You know you’re somewhere special as soon as you walk up to the holiday cottage, where large screens project scenes of Shrek and your other favorite DreamWorks characters inside. After picking up your timed-tickets, your North Pole “tour guide” will usher you inside where Santa’s elves will welcome you. With Santa missing from his seat, kids are directed (by Shrek and Donkey) that they’re going to the North Pole instead. After being led into a Top Secret sleigh design room, kids are told to design the sleigh they want to take for the journey on an iPad — they select the color, the seating, even the style of the boosters.

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Now it’s time for the ride. Climb into a three row sled situated in front of a 4D video screen, and feel the sled fly through the night sky. When the sled hits snow or wind, you’ll feel it on your face, and as the sled gains elevation, the boosters give your seat a turbulent shake. This is very kid-friendly; you’re on the way to see Santa, of course. We were there with our 4-year-olds and no one got scared — With Shrek and Donkey as a guide, the experience is pure magic.

Finally, after a quick pitstop to play a Shrek-themed “Naughty or Nice” iPad game, kids are brought into a private meeting with Santa. Santa’s workshop is about as realistic as possible, with his books about toy making on the shelves and his desk covered in to-do lists of things to finish up before Christmas.There’s even a plate of cookies and a stack of letters from children on a table next to him.

The entire experience took about 10 to 15 minutes, depending on how much time you spend in each room. Best of all, it’s free. When you finish, you can pick a photo of your child with Santa or even a video, with various packages offered at different price points. You can book a reservation Monday through Friday, 3pm to 8pm, and on weekends 10am to 8pm.

Date Night: 105 Ten Bar & Grill

Inside Briarcliff Manor's newish gastropub.

November 5, 2014

Even though it’s situated in an unassuming strip mall, there’s a lot to like about 105-Ten Bar & Grill in Briarcliff Manor: There’s a fully-stocked, extra-long bar with flat screen TVs if you want a drink and an app, or settle in for a long meal at one of the cozy, leather banquettes. Exposed brick, industrial lighting and rustic wood tabletops give the restaurant a warm and inviting atmosphere, and the lively crowd isn’t just from the neighborhood — you get the feeling 105-Ten is quickly becoming a destination gastropub.

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We went for dinner, and while the most of entrees were predictable — Lobster Mac n’ Cheese, Tuna Tacos, Braised Pork Shank, Grilled Sirloin Steak — there were some surprises elsewhere on the menu. We went bananas over the fried pickles with horseradish dipping sauce ($8) and mini sliders topped with bacon jam and truffle aioli ($13). The creamy polenta side was a cheesy bowl of comfort food at its best ($6).

Looking for a bargain? On Wednesdays, all house wines are $5 a glass until 8pm, and on Tuesdays, happy hour runs from 6pm to close.

105-Ten Bar and Grill, 127 Woodside Avenue, Briarcliff Manor;  914-236-3651

Day Trip: Puppetworks in Park Slope

November 3, 2014

We recently caravanned with some Westchester friends into Brooklyn for brunch. After plates of omelets and chocolate chip pancakes, frothy cappuccinos and power juices — and a few restless little bodies at the table — we knew we had to move to more kid-centered territory. We were in Park Slope, so we headed over to [...]

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We Tried This: Hot Yoga at YogaSpark

November 1, 2014

The Class: Candelit Yoga at YogaSpark; 490 Mount Pleasant Ave, Mamaroneck. (Behind School of Rock, parking available in front) The Low Down: Our teacher led the one hour, flow-based class appropriately for a mixed group — me and my fellow yoga newbies were just as comfortable as the more advanced yogis there.  The room was [...]

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Happy Halloween!

October 31, 2014

Feeling like your little one won’t stay up late enough to trick or treat? Take them to your local village early in the day. Most village shops have candy for the kids, and it’s a fun way for them to get an early start. Happy Halloween, friends!

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High End Decor on a Budget: Consign It On Main

October 29, 2014

By Lorri Elder Dyner, an interior designer in Westchester. I’m the first one to dial up IKEA or Craigslist when I have a new design client. My whole business is built around finding high-end decor solutions that won’t break the bank! But sometimes, even I have to admit, only a high-end piece of furniture will do. [...]

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